Wonderful Locations to Go to in Kazakhstan in 2023

In search of locations to go to in Kazakhstan? Look no additional than this complete information to the world’s ninth-largest nation.

From the ultra-modern capital Nur Sultan (previously often called Astana) to alpine Almaty, desert Aral and the Caspian resort of Aktau, there is sufficient to maintain avid adventurers occupied for a while.

In addition to being a mecca for outside lovers, Kazakhstan presents lots for these looking for extra attention-grabbing locations alongside the previous Silk Highway and in Central Asia.

The nation is dwelling to the Baikonur Cosmodrome the place manned area missions begin off, a former Soviet nuclear testing website at Semipatalisnk, and the gulag advanced at Karaganda.

Learn on to search out out extra.

Present Journey Restrictions for Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s land borders opened once more on eleventh April 2022. This implies touring Central Asia and exploring the Silk Highway is sort of again to its pre-pandemic routines (except for a PCR check or proof of vaccination).

From eleventh April it’s attainable to cross from Kazakhstan into Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, and Russia and vice versa.

Nevertheless, in case you are planning on touring to/from Kazakhstan and neighboring international locations, make sure to test the final updates on the land borders.

  • Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)

The land border with China stays closed as China has not reopened for tourism and can possible not accomplish that till 2023.

Replace September 2021: Kazakhstan has reintroduced its pre-pandemic visa-free journey regime for residents of most international locations.

About Kazakhstan Tourism

Kazakhstan tourism is in its infancy by worldwide requirements, however with its extraordinarily hospitable folks, meals to die for and diverse Silk Highway panorama of steppe, desert, and mountains, this former Soviet republic can’t keep a secret perpetually!

Kok Tobe cable automobile

The nation’s infrastructure is continually enhancing with new roads and high-speed trains reducing touring occasions significantly. For instance, the journey from the Chinese language border used to take over ten hours on horrible roads however now takes simply six hours on a brand-new freeway.

Nevertheless, outdoors of the cities, transport to sights and scenic spots might be tough. The easiest way to see the nation is to rent a automobile. Though it’s attainable to get round with shared taxis and marshrutkas, it’s not straightforward if you happen to don’t converse Russian or Kazakh.

Locations equivalent to Massive Almaty Lake, the Kolsai Lakes, and Charyn Canyon are usually not linked to Almaty by common public transport, so it’ll take just a little work to get there (however will likely be completely price it)!

Prime Locations to Go to in Kazakhstan


Prime Aktau Points of interest

  • Caspian Seashores
  • Lighthouse
  • Mangistau

Aktau Seashore on the Caspian Sea

You might be shocked to be taught that Kazakhstan has its personal seaside resort! Aktau is a small metropolis on the shores of the Caspian Sea (actually a big inland saltwater lake). An important place to chill off in summer season!

As Aktau is a really (VERY) good distance from anyplace, it’s only price visiting if you happen to plan on exploring the area, such because the landforms at Mangistau, or you might be touring throughout the Caspian to or from Baku in Azerbaijan.


Prime Almaty Points of interest

  • Zhenkov Cathedral
  • Kok Tobe
  • Zhibek Zholy
  • Medeu Ice Rink

Zhenkov Cathedral, Almaty

Almaty is the mountainous former capital and beating coronary heart of Kazakhstan. A winter playground and residential to Central Asia’s premier ski resort, leafy Almaty is unquestionably among the finest locations to go to in Kazakhstan!

The structure of downtown Almaty is much more Russian than Central Asian, with brightly coloured picket homes, Soviet statues, and Orthodox church buildings.

The middle is dwelling to an unlimited array of modern bars, cafes, and eating places serving the whole lot from conventional Kazakh to French, Georgian and Japanese!


Almaty makes the right base for heading off into the wilderness of the Ile Alatau Nationwide Park for mountain climbing, tenting, snowboarding, and extra. The primary mountain trails are solely a twenty-minute bus experience from the middle of city!

For extra data see this Almaty Journey Information

Round Almaty

Massive Almaty Lake

  • Journey time from Almaty: approx 40-minute drive

Massive Almaty Lake

A wonderful alpine lake excessive above the town. The proper place for mountain climbing and summer season picnics. There’s a close by observatory too. Remember that the lake could be very near the border with Kyrgyzstan so heed all warning indicators and border guards (nothing to fret about).

How you can get there: take a taxi, or bus and hike. 

Charyn Canyon

  • Journey time from Almaty: an approx three-hour drive

Charyn Canyon is situated within the desert near the Chinese language border. The 154-kilometer canyon follows the Sharyn River and varieties a part of the Charyn Nationwide Park. At its deepest, the canyon is 300m (virtually one thousand ft) deep.

How you can get there: self-drive, be a part of a tour or take a shared taxi from Sayahat Bus Station in Almaty.

Shymbulak Ski Resort

  • Journey time from Almaty: approx one hour (30-minute bus and 30-minute cable automobile)

Shymbulak Ski Resort within the Mountains above Almaty

Shymbulak (Chimbalak) is a ski resort within the mountains above Almaty. It is extremely straightforward to get there by bus from the middle of the town stopping on the backside of the Shymbulak cable automobile.

How you can get there: take bus 12 from Dostyk Avenue (reverse Lodge Kazakhstan), then a Cable automobile from Medeu to Shymbulak. 


Prime Aralsk Points of interest

  • Desert
  • Camels
  • Rusting Boats

Aralsk, Kazakhstan

As soon as a thriving fishing port, the small city of Aralsk has seen higher days. You will note extra camels than ships right here now because the Aral Sea has moved some 40km away because of Soviet damming.

Aralsk is among the extra attention-grabbing locations to go to in Kazakhstan for many who are occupied with darkish tourism. There isn’t an excellent deal to see, and the lodging choices are frankly horrible, however in order for you actual “off the overwhelmed path” journey, then give it a go!


Prime Karaganda Points of interest

  • Soviet Murals
  • Karlag Gulag
  • Russian Structure

Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Karaganda is a small metropolis within the north of Kazakhstan just a few hundred kilometers south of the capital Nur-Sultan. Town is dwelling to some attention-grabbing structure, artwork, and residential of the Karlag gulag advanced.

Kolsai Lakes


Kazakhstan’s shiny new capital Nur-Sultan (previously Astana) is the enterprise and monetary middle. Resulting from its northern location, Nur Sultan is the second coldest capital on the earth (after Ulaanbaatar).


Shymkent, Kazakhstan

Laidback Shymkent is a small metropolis near the border with Uzbekistan.


Turkistan is dwelling to a few of Kazakhstan’s most spectacular medieval Islamic structure from the Timurid empire, making it one of many prime locations to go to in Kazakhstan.


Picturesque Zharkent is a small village on the border with China. Right here one can find picket cottages harking back to Siberia sitting within the shadows of the close by Tian Shan Mountains.

Getting round Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a really giant nation and the distances between cities might be large. The nation advantages from a complete rail community.

Trains in Kazakhstan

The previous Soviet-era trains are regularly being changed by quicker extra fashionable wagons, full air-conditioned carriages, bar, and eating automobiles.

Costs are typically low cost by western requirements however tickets can promote out so it’s all the time greatest to e-book just a few days prematurely. You should buy tickets on the station or on-line on the official Kazakh Railways web site.

Pattern fares and journey occasions for Kazakhstan Trains

  • Almaty to Nur-Sultan (Astana) 15 hours 9,000₸ ($20)
  • Almaty to Shymkent 11 hours 8,000₸ ($18)
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana) to Karaganda 4 hours 3,000₸ ($7)
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana) to Aktau 30 hours 14,000₸ ($32)
  • Shymkent to Aral 14 hours 8,000₸ ($18)
  • Shymkent to Aktau 28 hours 10,000₸ ($22)

Buses in Kazakhstan

Buses are one other nice approach to journey and are barely cheaper than trains. Because the roads are usually not all paved, the journeys can take for much longer.

Taxis in Kazakhstan

It’s additionally attainable to take taxis lengthy distances and one can find folks at transport hubs providing rides to different cities.

You will see taxis ready at practice stations and long-distance bus stations equivalent to Sayram in Almaty. To hail a cab on the road, merely maintain out your hand towards the visitors. Any automobile is usually a potential taxi and you need to agree on a worth earlier than coming into.

You too can use the Yandex Taxi app (much like Uber) if you happen to converse Russian or Kazakh.

Attending to and from Kazakhstan

To get to and from Kazakhstan and neighboring international locations, listed here are three of the most typical methods:

  • Almaty to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
  • Almaty to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
  • Almaty to Urumqi (China)

Cash and Prices in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a cheap nation by world requirements and ranks 334th out of 376 cities worldwide (which is 70% decrease than the USA).*

Lodging and transport (if touring between cities) are the 2 largest prices related to a visit to Kazakhstan, however with an abundance of low cost motels, hostels and transport strategies, it’s attainable to journey the nation on $30 to $50 per day.

*supply: numbeo.com

Kazakhstan Journey Ideas

Kazakhstan has loads of hostels within the bigger cities. Within the smaller cities, it’s attainable to get a resort room for c5,000 tenge ($12.00). In Zharkent I had a complete suite for this worth.

The previous gradual trains can price as much as 60% lower than a ticket on the brand new quick trains and are completely snug for an in a single day journey outdoors of the summer season (no air-con).

Lengthy-distance buses make an excellent different to the trains and ply lots of the identical routes.

Meals and Drink in Kazakhstan

Lamb Shashlik on the Kok Tobe Cafe in Almaty

Kazakh delicacies is strongly influenced by the nation’s nomadic previous. Kazakhstan’s nationwide dishes are meat-heavy with horse, mutton, and lamb, however there are many vegetarian choices within the bigger cities.

Dishes equivalent to beshbarmak (boiled horsemeat or mutton) are highly regarded, however it’s the ubiquitous shashlik (grilled chunks of meat served with dill and onions), that one can find virtually all over the place.

Eating out in one in all Almaty’s many street-side eating places or cafes is the spotlight of any journey to the nation and the standard of the meals could be very excessive. Within the bigger cities, you could find cuisines from around the globe together with Chinese language, French, Georgian, Italian, and Japanese to call just a few.

Consuming out in Kazakhstan is cheap by western requirements and an excellent meal with drinks can price lower than $10. Head to one of many many bazaars equivalent to Inexperienced Bazaar in Almaty or Ayna Bazaar in Shymkent for an actual style of Kazakh substances at their freshest and most colourful.

Kazakhstan Climate

The Kazakhstan climate can differ vastly relying on the place on this huge nation you might be. The inside is an arid land consisting of desert and steppe.

As a result of geographic location removed from any seas (the Caspian and Aral are technically lakes), the nation has sizzling summers and really chilly winters.

The capital Nur-Sultan (Astana) is the second coldest on the earth after Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and sees common winter temperatures of round -14c. The typical winter temperature for Almaty is round -4c.

Nur-Sultan sees milder summers because of its northern location, and Almaty has sizzling and sunny summers with the occasional thunderstorm.

Security in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a really secure nation with little or no crime reported in opposition to foreigners.


Nevertheless, the cruel landscapes throughout the nation imply that you need to be well-prepared earlier than setting off. Learn extra about Central Asia journey and, as all the time, guarantee you have got correct Journey Insurance coverage when touring.

Steve Rohan is a author from Essex, England. In 2015 he moved to China to show English the place he lived for over six years. He has lived and taught within the cities of Harbin, Luoyang, Sanya, and spent just a few months in Hong Kong, earlier than returning to England in 2022. He has visited over 60 international locations thus far and often opts for overland journey. Steve has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Central Asia, and East Asia, and is now dwelling the digital nomad life on the street.


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